A programme to assess the quality of the island’s emergency shelters is expected to get under way this year.
This was revealed recently by the Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Judy Thomas, who stated that the organisation would be conducting a structural assessment of the island’s shelters.
Ms. Thomas was speaking at the launch of a Shelter Management Workshop hosted by the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.
Meanwhile, Chief Shelter Warden, Dr. Wendy Griffith-Watson, also stressed the importance of a shelter assessment programme. “Our schools were built as schools and very few of them are equipped to accommodate large numbers of persons in an emergency situation. We, therefore, look forward to the information coming from the Department of Emergency Management which will give us very clear directions about the buildings we have available and what we have to do to improve their capacity,” she pointed out.
Dr. Griffith-Watson observed that “an emergency can occur at any time, even on the school compound. It could be a child or teacher who gets seriously injured, a bomb scare or even a fire. Once we have our staff in schools understanding this, it will not be too difficult to have them accept the training in emergency management and their roles as emergency managers.
Stressing the need for more emergency drills in schools, Dr. Griffith Watson, who is also the Chief Education Officer, said that the Ministry of Education would be working closely with the DEM this year to increase the frequency of drills. “Emergency drills need to become a norm at schools… this would also help parents feel assured that should something happen, their children will be safe,” she stated.